Zaft 026   Wilt / Stolen Light   Split

Track listing:

  1. Wilt: The Search for Transparency
  2. Wilt: Avalanche of Pollen
  3. Wilt: Cephalopathy
  4. Wilt: Concrete
  5. Wilt: Conversing with Mud
  6. Wilt: Blacklipstick
  7. Wilt: Cutsandbruises
  8. Wilt: Ditchweed
  9. Wilt: Underneath Earthern Layers
  10. Wilt: Z
  11. Wilt: Noise #9
  12. Stolen Light: Happy Birthday to Me
  13. Stolen Light: The Answer is in the Question

When I first started trading with Wilt, I was amazed at the depth in his music. This release shows the noisier side of Wilt. I must admit, I was a bit surprised when I heard the material James sent to me. One of the aspects of Wilt that I had fallen in love with is that his music is neither ambient nor noise. This release crosses the line squarely into the realm of noise. While it was surprising, it was a nice surprise. With tracks ranging from 6 seconds to almost 6 minutes, there is a wide variety on this disc. Fans of Wilt's atmospheric work may be a bit surprised when listening to this, but I was impressed to see this expansion of his domain.

On the Stolen Light side, Happy Birthday to Me is titled because it was completed in the small hours of my birthday.

Here's what Nicolas at Recycle Your Ears had to say:

Eigth split already in this ongoing series on Zaftig Research, this time featuring Wilt on the one side, and Zaftig Research's own harsh noise project, Stolen Light, on the other. Thinking that Wilt's past productions had been mostly ambient (except for his noise-oriented "Wither" album), I was surprised not to find Goose (the atmospheric project of Zaftig Research) but Stolen Light on this disc. But after listening to Wilt's tracks here, it is easy why Brett Lunceford (Goose / Stolen Light) decided to rely on overdrive and statics here: Wilt shows us here a very angry, loud, cut up and noisy side of his talent.

With these 11 tracks, ranging in length from 6 seconds to almost 6 minutes, James Keeler (Wilt), takes his noise where it had been left with "Wither", and applies to it the careful and talented processing he had demonstrated in "Amidst a spacious fabric". The result is a thunder of distortion, white noise, cut up, weird sampling and distortion. Often bordering japanoise, and definitely leaning toward Troniks and Helicopter, this is Wilt's most incisive work I know. If you thought Wilt was "just" an ambient artist, here is something that will prove you wrong. Editing samples, reverting them, saturating them, cutting them, using noise from electrical devices and voices, these tracks are dynamic, ever changing and just really good (but you'll have to like noise to enjoy them).

Stolen Light follows with two tracks (including the surprisingly short "Happy birthday to me") that are definitely better than what Brett Lunceford has released under this name in the past. Except for the track on "Tonal Destruction", Stolen Light has often been a bit too repetitive and "wall of noise"-ish to me. Here, Stolen Light walks the Lefthandeddecision path, filling everything in sight with distortion and bass, and turning into some kind of huge crunchy overdriven whirlwind. Not that much white noise here, and a lot more of diversity and changes into these two harsh noise tracks, which is really a progress for Stolen Light, in my opinion.

If this split appears at first as a small item with a very simple sleeve and a very limited edition, this is one hell of a harsh noise hell. It is nothing new to say that I am a fan of Wilt's work, but I was really well surprised by the ease with which he plays harsh cut up noise, and Stolen Light presents here the most elaborated material I know from him. Even better than expected, and strongly ears cleaning.

Here's what Peter at Re:mote Induction had to say:

The eighth in Zaftig Research's split series is a split between Wilt and Stolen Light. It is more normal for each artist to provide one or two long tracks, instead here Wilt offer 11. With that Wilt also goes for something different sound wise, while some of his work in the past has been harsh to some degree, there is more of a noise influence on the contribution here. A shift in style that brings about mixed results, some of the pieces being decent and some just being dull. Hard strokes rumble with distorted edges in The Search For Transparency, pausing periodic grinds, quick electric pulses shot through that after the first 30 seconds. New waves add, coming to slow peak then quick strip, pittering perforations left in the trail. Falling to a bass fluctuation just short of two minutes, ripped static and noise adding to that shortly. Spikes of sounds add a squalling detail, looped and filtered with a choppy background, catching in skip motion, then focusing hard on short loop. This is one of the better pieces here.

Part of the problem with the Wilt material is that there are a number of very short pieces, which don't seem to serve any real purpose. Examples being Avalanche Of Pollen is a hard burst lasting 6 seconds, and Cephalopathy features low grinds and a sweep lasting 14 seconds. Concrete is the fourth piece and is of greater length, filtered train sounds, captured background musics, clatter and trough interference. Chugging as it continues in a muffled stream with distorting potential. There are definite mechanic tones in this piece.

Conversing With Mud bridges with a compressed clamour and monstrous out cry, before we move on to Blacklipstick. Low waves, crashing, hints of bass line oscillation, carrying effected voices/samples. Smooth in contrast to rough with the combination of these elements. Then we have the low sounds which suggests atmosphere, Cutsandbruises expanding with wet detail and street sounds, working into a mix that is squalling noise with heavy sensations through that. Streaking out in extension with low wet growls working against the wind tunnel sustain and discomfort. Next is Ditchweed, where voices are filtered in an evil fashion, rasping and distressed. Water trickles in the patter of light rain or forgotten shower, shifting into amplified delayed rumble. The voice sustains, getting a little silly with the whole thing, stray clanks are heard and then new focus on atmospheric background sound. A repeating wave is cut through by shrill signals. On the whole this piece is a little irritating.

Underneath Earthen Layers pulses, with mild distortion, a repeating fluctuation. Silence, then resumption with extra levels that grind on an increased layer of distortion. Layering in bass as the piece sustains, forming an almost grinding drone. Z is a grinding drone, wavering with a wash of static, stray metallic sounds clattering through the mix. The sense of vibrancy in this section is attractive, coupled with the sense of focus makes this part stand out on the release. A quick burst of horn gives a sense of humour, a burst of get up and get ready. From which more heavily flexed strings come, hard fluctuations causing solid effect. Though this gives way to the trickle of fluid and grit. Bursts and a child voice lead to a more strained out right noise section and shifts of consistency. Starting off well and losing it as it goes on.

Noise #9 finishes the Wilt material with a dull noise stream, grinding to 30 seconds then resolving in a buzz-buzz of signal shifting once more to static stream, then chopping cycles. A stream of inconsistent sound - bitty pieces, either experiments or bemused filler, going for some clear samples and more frequent shifts. the result is a sense of little focus, some nice bits coming through on the whole, but also sections which aren't particularly remarkable by any means - so that in the end I am just bored.

Happy Birthday To Me is the first Stolen Light piece, which is much more consistent and along the lines of what one would expect from Stolen Light - the sound of a wavering signal, attempting to tune, but slowed down by several degrees to give a sluggish feel and then heavily filtered into a squalling growling noise mass - constant layered motion, textured density. The Answer Is In The Question is again more along these lines. Something vocal seeming to be at the centre of this noise, bass pulses filtering through the rip and tear. Definitely Stolen Light, unrelenting as it is, which is just how we like it.